Reported 1-Year Deal Will Afford Fifth-Year Back Increased Playing Time Behind Ivory

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When used right, Bilal Powell is a very reliable player.

Last season, the Jets buried Powell behind Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson on the team’s running back depth chart.

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Now under new management, the Jets have apparently seen the error of their ways.

With Powell reportedly leaning toward reuniting with old coach Rex Ryan in Buffalo, new Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan went to work and reached an agreement with the fifth-year back out of Louisville on a reported one-year contract on Tuesday, just hours before the free agent signing period was to begin.

“I really didn’t want to leave, man,” Powell told Newsday by phone on Tuesday. “As far as having a chance to stay and playing in the city that I came into, it was something that my family and I decided on.”

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Financial terms of the deal were not immediately released. Powell immediately took to Twitter to thank fans for their support.

Powell ran for 437 yards, a 4.0-per carry average and four touchdowns in 2012 and followed that up with 697 rushing and 272 receiving, along with 36 receptions, in 2013. But as with a lot of things during the sorry 4-12 season in 2014, the Jets made several decisions that in retrospect weren’t the smartest.

The signing of veteran Johnson took a huge number of touches away from Powell. He finished the season with just 33 carries and 11 receptions for a combined 233 yards.

But once the Jets cleaned out both their front office and coaching staff, along with several veterans, including the underwhelming Johnson, it became evident that they realized Powell’s value. Expect him to have a bigger role in 2015 under rookie head coach Todd Bowles.

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However, due to Ivory’s history of nagging injuries and the overall lack of breakaway speed in their backfield, the Jets likely will add another running back, either through free agency or through what is a deep draft at the position.